Richard Serra is among that rare breed of artist whose work captures the minds and hearts of jaded critics and the imaginations of lazy four-year-olds in equal measure. His mammoth steel creations, as much feats of industry as art, at once beg and defy rigid explanation.
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How do they not fall, for instance – not a trivial concern considering that nothing is bolted down or fixed. And as you walk between the torqued, tilting, twenty-five-foot high plates, an anxious pleasure, you appreciate the beauty beyond the aesthetics: Serra’s supreme grasp of his material’s dynamics, a perfectly choreographed interplay between volume, weight and mass.
In his first London show since 1992, the artist presents three new large-scale sculptures together with a series of painted geometric steel plates ('Forged Drawings') at Gagosian’s Britannia Street gallery, and new works on paper at the Davies Street branch.
No matter how many times you encounter his work, discovering one of these steel monsters tucked away in an austere gallery space always feels a little like uncovering something alien and secret. The new sculptural pieces – two giant torqued toruses (‘TTI London’), a 9m-wide wall section (‘Fernando Pessoa’) and one dauntingly impressive, undulating, labyrinthine creation aptly titled ‘Open Ended’ – reveal Serra at his inspired best. A long overdue London visit by one of our favourite living artists.
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Harriet Lloyd-Smith is the Arts Editor of Wallpaper*, responsible for the art pages across digital and print, including profiles, exhibition reviews, and contemporary art collaborations. She started at Wallpaper* in 2017 and has written for leading contemporary art publications, auction houses and arts charities, and lectured on review writing and art journalism. When she’s not writing about art, she’s making her own.
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